THREE: Natural Japanese Ingredients for Beautiful Skin
THREE Cosmetics was founded in Japan by Yasushi Ishibashi at a time when the global beauty market was dominated by Western brands. A favourite of beauty editors in Japan, THREE takes a holistic yet modern approach when it comes to its cosmetic and skin care offering. We spoke to the founder about where green beauty is headed in Japan and the unique native ingredients in their line. This interview took place in Japanese. It has been translated, edited and condensed.
Green and clean beauty from Japan
Parvati Magazine: Mr. Ishibashi, you’ve had 45 years worth of experience in the beauty industry. What inspired you to go in the direction of green beauty products?
Yasushi Ishibashi: Environmental pollution is causing a lot of problems and technology is causing stress too, and now I see that more people are desiring to go back to nature.
The market of clean beauty is growing worldwide. It started with people wanting products with natural ingredients, but it did not grow in the beginning because people did not see results. I would say there was no one promising these, and therefore we became popular in the Japanese market. We know that the ingredients and formulation actually deliver results. Being safe, natural and effective is the key for us.
Parvati Magazine: THREE is known for using only carefully selected organic essential oils and Japanese-sourced botanical ingredients. Why is organic important to your brand and what are some of the distinct yet key ingredients and processes of your products?
The magic of Japanese tea seed oil
Yasushi Ishibashi: THREE uses natural ingredients including organic certified essential oils from the west (Western countries) and domestic grown ingredients from the east (Japan). When you see the map of Japan, you will find the snowy Hokkaido in the north, and in the south, the tropical island Okinawa. In one country we have different climates, the rich nature and the knowledge and dedication that has enabled us to create high-quality natural ingredients. You will see tea seed from Shizuoka, apple water from Aomori, and Yuzu citrus from Kochi. They are safe enough to eat, meaning safe to be applied on skin as well.
THREE is the first to use Japanese-grown tea seed oil. Tea seed oil is considered to have the same structure as human sebum, meaning it is compatible to the skin. There were already Chinese-grown tea seeds in the market, but we have analyzed the ingredient and found that the ones grown in Japan are even more compatible to the skin. They are handpicked and cold-pressed. The outer core is released back to the farm after extraction. We are not a marketing-oriented brand and most of the investment is on product ingredients themselves. In order to make this possible we need to know who has grown it, how it was raised, how it was picked and how it was extracted. I travel to the farms all the time. I know the people who are working there, and this close relationship is important for me to confirm the quality.
Parvati Magazine: How do you think the typical skin regimen in Japan differs from that in North America or Europe? What could our Western readers learn from Japanese skin care?
Yasushi Ishibashi: Japanese and Koreans use an average of seven products in their skincare regimen, including UV protection. The difference we see in the Japanese skincare regimen versus a western one is double cleansing and lotion. Double cleansing makes the skin completely clean which helps the skin to absorb the active ingredients used afterwards. Western people use more emulsions and creams, but Asians put more weight on hydration to make the skin dewy and plump. Also, Japanese people take hot baths every day. This is good for blood circulation, which provides good metabolism and healthy skin.
RHYTHM SPA: Circadian rhythm-inspired beauty
Parvati Magazine: Please tell us about your spa.
Yasushi Ishibashi: RHYTHM SPA is inspired by the circadian rhythm of the body. In the morning, detoxification and stimulation is key so the main menu will focus on the head. In the afternoon, the body temperature becomes higher, so firming and anti-aging treatments are suitable during this time period and the main menu will be a body treatment. At night, the main menu will be a facial to calm the mind and skin at the same time.
Parvati Magazine: Do you think the Japanese beauty industry is embracing green and clean beauty? Where do you see natural beauty headed in Japan in the next five years?
Yasushi Ishibashi: I believe there will be more brands coming out in this category with sophisticated textures and results that can compete with mainstream cosmetics.
Yasushi Ishibashi got his start with Kanebo Cosmetics Inc. in 1974 and went on to launch beauty successes RMK and SUQQU. In 2008, he launched THREE with the core concept “Natural, Honest, Creative”, working closely with ingredient suppliers for product development. THREE opened its first flagship store THREE AOYAMA in 2013 and is now expanding globally.